Avoid Over-Committing Your Time With This Simple Formula

Avoid Over-Committing Your Time with This Simple Formula

Time management can be tough, but it often comes down to not being truly aware of how you spend your time. This formula forces you to examine your time usage while making it plain and clear what you can and cannot do in the time you have.

Picture: Mike Mozart/Flickr

Like many formulas, there's a constant. In this case it's 24 hours since we only have that many hours in the day. The rest of the formula's variables, as Elizabeth Grace Saunders from the Harvard Business Review explains, are entirely up to your needs:

(External Expectations) + (Internal Expectations) ≤ 24 hours — (Self-Care)

Those variables don't make sense in that form, but they each break down into smaller things. Start with finding out what your Self-Care number is. This means adding up the time you need for sleep, eating and personal grooming. Now add up your External Expectations, such as work, commute, pets and relationships. Lastly, add up your Internal Expectations, such as hobbies, side projects and personal time. Here's an example of what mine might look like:

  • (8 for work + 1 for house and pet duties) + (2 for games and TV + 1 for reading + 1 for side projects) ≤ 24 hours - (8 for sleep + 1 for eating + 1 for personal grooming)
  • (9) + (4) ≤ 24 hours - (10)
  • (13) ≤ (14)

When you add it all up, is the left side of your equation less than or equal to the right side? If not, you're over-committing yourself, and that can lead to burnout really fast. Don't be afraid to break things down even further if need be. See where you can make sacrifices or change things up if you need to. Time is a precious resource and you really don't want to try and spend more than you have.

A Formula to Stop You from Overcommitting Your Time [Harvard Business Review]


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